“Writing gives me great feelings of pleasure. There’s a marvelous sense of mastery that comes with writing a sentence that sounds exactly as you want it to. It’s like trying to write a song, making tiny tweaks, reading it out loud, shifting things to make it sound a certain way. It’s very physical. I get antsy. I jiggle my feet a lot, get up a lot, tap my fingers on the keyboard, check my e-mail. Sometimes it feels like digging out of a hole, but sometimes it feels like flying. When it’s working and the rhythm’s there, it does feel like magic to me.” Susan Orlean on why she writes.
An exhibition of the authorportraits of Swedish artist Carl Köhler, whose extraordinary portraits of artists and intellectuals we’ve displayed here at The Millions, opens in Toronto on January 11th at the Robarts Library of the University of Toronto, 130 St. George St. For more information call 416-971-3131.
Another hip-hip for long-form journalism. George Packer‘s piece in the New Yorker on Richard Holbrooke and the Af-Pak War reminds one that some things — complicated geopolitical matters, for example — must be explored at length. Subscribers can read the full article in the digital edition here. Short of that, read Packer’s assessment of the McChrystal Report on his blog.
New this week: Satin Island by Tom McCarthy; The Infernal by Mark Doten; The Half Brother by Holly LeCraw; All the Wrong Places: A Life Lost and Found by Philip Connors; Green on Blue by Elliot Ackerman; Making Nice by Matt Sumell; After Birth by Elisa Albert; Blue Stars by Emily Ray Tedrowe; The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan; The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty by Amanda Filipacchi; and Find Me by Laura van den Berg. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2015 Book Preview.
Young Money author Kevin Roose provides a glimpse at “What the Future of Reading Looks Like.” His prediction does not bode well for the makers of e-readers, though, and it’s not because e-books are on the wane. On the contrary, it’s because “when people read e-books, they’re doing it on their existing tablets and smartphones, not on devices built expressly for reading,” he writes. (Related: this may have a positive effect when it comes to rising carbon emissions.)
The January issue of Asymptote is out, featuring an excellent interview with Year in Reading alumnus Junot Díaz about language acquisition and diasporic identity. As he puts it, “I live a life where both English and Spanish are in italics in my brain. It costs me no extra effort; it doesn’t feel unusual; it doesn’t feel like an infirmity, but it does strike me every now and then that there are people who don’t pick over their language the way I do, who aren’t so self-conscious of what they’re saying, who have a natural tongue.” Pair with Thea Lim’s Millions essay on race and gender in Díaz’s books.
In Salon, Laura Miller discusses two new studies showing a correlation between the number of books in a child’s household and the level of education that child’s likely to attain: “Children with as few as 25 books in the family household completed on average two more years of schooling than children raised in homes without any books.”